I wish someone would pay me to lose weight!

Michael Rosenwald who is a writer for the Washington Post wrote an article called “An Economy of Scales: Paying people to lose weight helps drop pounds and health-care costs.”

He claims that jobs are less intensive than they used to be, therefore the calories stay with us easier.

“Nobody washes, slices, and peels potatoes to make french fries. McDonald’s can serve up a large order for $2.09 in mere seconds.”

The writers wife offered to pay him to lose weight, which economist have found to work.

Makes sense if you pay people to produce and in this cause he is producing a net loss of calories.

Now what would your prices be?

You would have to factor in a few costs…

First costs of being overweight and having to be unhealthy, which could be genetic and sometimes unavoidable.

Second are the costs of losing this weight, which would help you form your price.

  • Time to exercise when you could be relaxing or with friends and family.
  • Gym membership
  • Gas to gym
  • To become educated on the good and bad things to eat.
  • Cook more at home (which is cheaper in dollars but not in time)

There are obviously other things that could be less costly like wearing black and vertical stripes. Having a good job and most of the time leads to better health insurance.

He states in this article that others believe you need risk factors. That he should take a picture of himself in a Speedo and if he doesn’t lose the weight it will be show in his office.

The last thing is mentions is that some guys from Yale are launching a web site in which you make a contract with yourself and if they don’t lose that amount of weight the money goes to charity or a friend.

Here is the link, but nothing is there yet.

What would an equation like this look like:

(Cost of Working Out + Costs to eat healthy) – health benefits + pride

So you either have to raise the benefits or lower the costs and paying people will do that…


Published in: on December 14, 2007 at 3:14 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m always baffled by the weight loss and weight problems of our society. I read an interesting article a few weeks back. Here are some excerpts:
    “As kids, we consumed far more calories than the kids are getting with fast food these days. Breakfast was typically two fried eggs (200 calories), two pieces of toast with butter … (300 more calories), a glass of OJ (100 calories) and a glass of milk (150 calories). Breakfast total: 750. That’s more than an Egg McMuffin meal. Even if you have OJ with it.”
    “Same goes for the old two-bologna sandwich with Oreos, fruit and milk, he said. At 1,150 calories, the contents of a 1960 s lunchbox trumped a Big Mac and medium fries. “
    “Cohen reckoned that when you factor in after-school snacks, a dinner of meat and potatoes and dessert , we Baby Boomers were inhaling about 3,500 calories daily in the “Leave It to Beaver” days. “
    “And we weren’t walking around exceeding the bridge load limits … the difference is that we were playing games outside instead of on the computer.” “

    From http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=133703&ran=113464

    I’m not even sure that exercise is what made the difference between the children of them and the children of today. Personally, I think it’s stress, additives in our food, less time to workout and fake sugar/low fat products that has added to our waistlines.

    It does bring up a good public health question. Being overweight adds to public health cost, but I don’t know if the government paying people to lose weight is more cost effective than other programs, such as tax deductions for gym memberships etc. Last year at CPAC I picked up some book published probably by the food industry called “An Epidemic of Obesity Myths,” which claimed that it’s better to be physically active and overweight than physically inactive and thin…which make sense.

    I really wish as a society we were able to figure out conclusively where we are going wrong. I’m worried that the health problems of our parents generation will be even worse for ours…

  2. As for the government/organizations paying people to lose weight: good intentions but it looks like this is ineffective in lowering h/c costs over time (directly). The only real benifit here is prolonging the quality and length of life of people. So in that sense, maybe government regulation is actually a good thing (the old public school policy of manditory gym is regulation by the way). Who knows, maybe people in better shape can live better lives and make more $, initially lowering the cost of health care for their generation. But then again, personal fitness is not an economical issue, but a biological one. Fit people will compete successfully and reproduce, unfit people wont. Like it or not, our species exists today because of this, so I say leave exercise to those who want it.

  3. Ean –
    You say this isn’t an economical issue? When you use the words “Fit people will compete successfully and reproduce, unfit people wont.” Competing with other humans is not different than two firms competing. Also if government intervene on the health care of U.S., that can go against capitalism and the economy the list goes on how this issue and people’s health is an economical issue…

    Also there is data on people who lose weight and their health care costs go down. There is no possible way in which you can tell me that it wouldn’t because if what you are saying is true we only lose weight to better our looks and not our health. Studies show most of our diseases are caused by being overweight. Heart disease is the number one killer in America and it can be reduced with diet and exercise.

    Government regulation is good either because A) you have to pay a bureaucrat to do it, B) there are still no incentives to continue after school, C) the opportunities costs of doing other things in school. and D)you are making the taxpayers pay for a program in which they are not benefiting from because it doesn’t effect the long run see B.

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